Eleven years after Syria’s suspension from the Arab League, governments in the Middle East have taken steps towards the rehabilitation of the Syrian regime. In the past few months, Syrian ministers and officials have resumed holding meetings with their regional counterparts, and in mid-March, Bashar al-Assad paid an unprecedented visit to the United Arab Emirates. However, the developments that took place at the regional level not reflect equivalent changes on the ground. The conflict remains at a standstill, and no diplomatic solution is yet in sight. Millions of Syrians remain displaced, and international agencies are coping with limited resources for emergency relief. On top of that, the far-reaching consequences of the conflict in Ukraine are likely to affect Syria profoundly. With the rise of global wheat prices and the possibility of a Russian veto on the renewal of cross-border aid becoming more concrete, Syria’s 11-year long humanitarian disaster risks being further exacerbated.
Against this backdrop, in what way have the latest steps towards the reintegration of Damascus into the Arab fold influenced the prospects of a political solution for Syria? What consequences is the invasion of Ukraine likely to have for the diplomacy of the Syrian conflict? And what steps can the international community take to cope with the worsening humanitarian conditions in the country?
Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
Director, Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs, Middle East Institute
Editor-in-Chief, The Syria Report
Associate Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Centre, ISPI